Don't do it.

Film Annoying old films you wished you'd forgotten don't get forgotten. They just get rereleased with a new title and using someone elses marketing ideas. Last year some time in an idle (and misguided moment) I sat through a really, really poor romantic drama called Londinium (2001) about a group of slightly self obsessed people in the capital of England (or y'know like whatever). The film featured people like with people like Colin Firth and Irene Jacob and was directed by on Mike Binder who clearly thought he was the next Woody Allen and like Allen cast himself in the film as the American. I'd recorded it one night over Christmas about three years ago because I quite liked the title and Irene Jacob who seems to have an inability to age. In fact she looked the same age here as she did in Three Colours Red fifteen years before.

It begins badly with some fairly obvious voiceovering and just heads downhill on a rocket pack with scenes that go on far too long, inconsistent plotting and performances so dislocated it's almost as though they are being provided in the same way that I believe some animated film voiceovers are recorded now, with the actors showing up when they have the time. It's a luscious looking film, so as always seems to be the way with these things, looks pretty but has nothing to say for itself. I somehow managed to get through to the end, largely to see what Jack Dee and Stephen Fry would be like -- and in fact they were the best value of all. Like all bad films I put it to the back of my mind, pretended it didn't happen and moved on with my life. Then tonight I saw this...

Since I'm analysing Love Actually for my dissertation I was quick to note the similarity of the fonts and the colour scheme and everything ... and that terrible new title which makes the film seem even worse than it probaby is if that's at all possible. If I was one of the Love Actually marketing people I'd be a little bit annoyed. I know that borrowing is a form of flattery but this is pretty ridiculous. Unless this was cooked up by the same people -- in which case shame on them for reusing what was such a prominent campaign and style. Here's a reminder...

Note that there's a quote that actually says "In the tradition of Notting Hill & Four Weddings". Here's a warning. Forget it. Even if you quite like the romantic doodlings of Mr Curtis and Colin Firth. Here's what the featured reviewer at the IMDb has to say:
"Londinium is a terrible, terrible film. Mike Binder thinks he is a Woody Allen for the millennium. He is not. Woody Allen's Bergmanesque films are funnier than this film.

London is one of the greatest cities in the world, but you wouldn't get that if your only frame of reference was this film. It is a slur on its great name, and the writer/ director should never be allowed back within its walls as long as he lives.

All the people involved should be ashamed for being in this film. Particularly Stephen Fry and Jack Dee, two men who are very funny indeed and should know the difference between a comedy script and the steaming pile of effluent that masqueraded as a script for this film.

Really, don't do it. If you have to rent a romantic comedy about an American in London, get Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence instead. I know that's not well like either but at least it features one of Ray Winstone's best performances...

non-independent independent

Film This excellent interview with Amber Benson is filled with nuggets. Like:
"I know exactly what you're saying, and its already happened...there is no independent cinema anymore. It ceased to exist a number of years ago when every independent distributor was picked up by a major league studio, or they went out of business. I mean, there really is no independent cinema any longer. There are very few people that are working outside the mainstream, and when they do, you don't see their films because they play at one art house theater in LA or New York."
Very true and something which is becoming increasingly obvious. People are talking about the 'independent spirit' as a way of wrestling with the fact that the quirky/art house type of film making has been co-opted by the studios as just another way of making and marketing films. The filmmakers have the best of intentions of course and there have been many, many loveable films made under these circumstances but I simply can't imagine the indie greats of the past like Clerks, Slacker and The Return of the Sacarcas Seven even getting distribution now.

The interview is worth reading because Benson is a tirelessly funny, self depricating figure who seems to know an awful lot more about the business than some might imagine. Spot the moments when she probably falls out with the Lohans and the Gyllenhals...


Film The IMDb is now publishing miniphotos next to their cast lists. For example, Short Cuts and Buffy. Slows down the page download on dial-up really.


TV Sorry I've been away tonight getting over a day of dissertation reading with a night with the Gilmore Girls. Their episode with The Bangles was infinitely more fulfilling than Dawson's daliance with No Doubt in that it was smart and funny and made sense in context. Anyway I'm breaking my silence before bedtime to bring you the funniest paragraph of a film review I've ever read, and after many strong years of reading Charlie Brooker, that's saying somethng...
"Now, we live in a modern, broad-minded open world in which us modern, broad-minded and open folk have our various interests, hobbies and pastimes to keep amused and ... oh, bugger it: In short, if I want to watch two people I don't know engaging in intercourse, I don't have to look very far, and you, gentle reader, don't either. If you want to or not is totally up to you, as is your choice whether or not to settle down to enjoy Love Island. And yet I plead, avoid Love Island like herpes. Because, you see, at least with pornography in general you can give the participants a back story of your own choice, a diverse and enlightening set of traits, a sense of morale and purpose, goals, aims. That sort of old school jive."
John Thorp at Off The Telly, that's incredible.

Abduction of The Girl

Film Somewhere in my dissertation reading about narrative, I found a piece about Ridley Scott's film Alien, in which the writer found herself with the problem of having to talk about the film as an ensemble piece when her brain was retrospectively rewriting the text in hindsight with Ripley as the lead character. Effectively she was saying that even people new to the film with the weight of film history would not be able to watch it in the same way as an audience member when the film first came out.

I had much the same problem watching The Abduction Club because despite editing and plotting that favours the characters played by Alice Evans and Daniel Lapaine I spent much of the film mesmerised by The Girl In The Fireplace's Sophia Myles (and to a lesser extent following Matthew Rhys who has arguably become almost as recognisable in the intervening years). So whilst the Evans and Lapaine are giving perfectly good performances, part of my brain is wondering what the real lead actors are doing. Actually to be fair, Myles does steal most of her scenes and is as good as we've seen her since but again I'm not sure if that's just my brain retrospectively paying attention to what she was doing at the expense of everyone else.

The film is a perfectly good, fun romp in the style of Plunkett & Macleane without the smugness and appearance from anyone from Little Britain. The Abduction Club are a band of young men who kidnap possible wives and then try to convince them to marry overnight. On this occasion it all goes horribly wrong and the abductors, Lapaine and Rhys end up dashing for the countryside with the abductees Evans and Myles.

There's a pleasing straightness to the whole thing -- it just wants to be an adventure film, nothing more, bit of romance, bit of buckleswash, some traitory and tragedy. It's actually somewhat how I'd imagine a pure historical would be like in the new series. The landscapes are gorgeous too. It is predictable but I think it's reveling in cliches like the hassling of the peasants when the outlaws are on the run and the nailing up of the wanted poster.

If there are issues, it's that the editing sometimes gets in the way of the performances and timing and the geography of the countryside isn't all that well laid out considering its importance to the story. Plus there's a moment at the end were a character seems to appear from the clear air in the middle of a scene (again probably because of the editing).

After spending a day watching the twisty-turny non-ploting of Robert Altman's Short Cuts it was refreshing to see something with a proper beginning middle and end with Myles again demonstrating why she'll be the UK's next big thing. I think. Incidentally, the director, Stefan Schwartz once played the Knight Commander in Battlefield. Everyone in the entertainment world is probably connected with everyone else through Doctor Who.


Law Starbucks customer sues over spilled coffee "The lawsuit claimed Hernandez suffered "severe and permanent injuries" from the coffee spill, the suit says, which have caused her "great pain and suffering, both physical and mental."


Elsewhere I've just posted a centric review of The Abduction Club here.


Film "This is a glum, lackluster movie in which even the big effects sequences seem dutiful instead of exhilarating. The newsroom of the Daily Planet, filled with eccentricity and life in the earlier movies, now seems populated by corporate drones. Jimmy Olsen, the copy boy, such a brash kid, seems tamed and clueless. Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has lost her dash and pizzazz, and her fiance, Richard White (James Marsden), regards her like a deer caught in the headlights. Even the editor, Perry White (Frank Langella), comes across less like a curmudgeon, more like an efficient manager." -- Ebert slams Superman Returns.

Horrifyingly not seen this yet with work prevailing against me. Is Ebert right? Either way, get well soon Rog.


Psychology "Your MO for handling something that concerns you is to gather as much information about it as you can. It's a sensible strategy ... but don't be too quick to pat yourself on the back. The value of your fact-finding mission depends a lot on the kind of information you seek out. If you're worried about flying and then Google "plane crashes," you'll get dozens of results about terrible accidents, says Leahy. "But what if you Googled 'safe landings'?" he asks. "What would you find then?" It's called confirmation bias: wanting to prove your fear is real and then finding information that confirms it. No matter what your concern (the likelihood of getting the West Nile virus, the dangers of day-care centers, etc.), get into the habit of asking yourself, "Am I collecting useful information, or am I just confirming my fear?" -- Molly Lyons for Redbook

I like to think that I don't worry as much as I once did. Actually I have a worry lifecycle -- I go from abject panic to the realisation that actually if I think about it hard enough it'll actually turn out ok. In other words I don't have to hand my dissertation in for another seven weeks...

Oh my god. Well your website's really, really good.

Film Awalt from SpielbergFilm finally gets to interview his hero -- who then tells him how much he loves his website. I'm surprised he didn't faint and actually managed to draw out some titbits about Indy IV, Jurrasic Park IV and his other new project [via].


Time Making a Watch by Hand. [via]


Film Just to let the interested know that what in my (mostly) humble opinion is one of the best films about music, The Red Violin is playing in the middle of the night at 3am on Channel 4 tonight. The Guardian's tv listing might describe it a 'patchy', but they would be wrong.

Pick of the pocket

Film This relatively old Slate article has been knocking around my favourites for a while. It's a bunch of filmmakers talking about those films that they've watched the most. I'm wondering how many of these are true. Has Paul Schrader really seen Besson's Pickpocket more than any other film? In the spirit here are the five films I've somehow seen more than any other. In decending order. Not including Star Wars or Lost In Translation. Funny how some of these aren't on my favourite film list.

Adventures In Babysitting

When I was at school and a teenager I watched this as though it was the only film ever made. I think it became a habit. I've probably seen it about fifty times and in fact I've probably seen it more than Star Wars. Certainly I can quote more scenes from this film that anything else. It's a very wierd phenomina. I mean it's not exactly artless and I'd go so far as to call it teen-noir. But really I should not be able to do this fifteen years later ...

"You've got to be kidding me."
"Watch you're mouth."
"Watch my mouth, you've gotta be kidding me. What if I fall."
"I won't let you fall."
"Thanks Sarah."

... note that I wasn't even watching the theatrical release of the film but a cleaned up tv version with some of the worst, wrong voiced dubbing seen this side of the legendary BBC version of Beverly Hills Cop. I now have the film on dvd. I've watched it once in about five years ...

When Harry Met Sally

This is my comfort film. When I'm feeling really down I'll watch this and pretend I'm living in New York. I haven't oddly enough had to see it for a few years. I think I'm phobic now that I've reached the same age as the main characters. I have never made a woman meiow.

All The President's Men

Now you're getting into the road map of my brain. It's simply a perfect screenplay, impeccibly directed and performed. So what if sections of it didn't happen and the story ends half way through. I like to think that there's a bit of Woodstein in all of us.

In The Bleak Midwinter

Every christmas since the mid-90s. It's a ritual now, but an important one. Good message about going for your dreams even when they seem horribly unrealistic and unimportant. Probably going to be really good thing to remember at the start of September when I re-enter the real world again in my usual directionless way.

Love and Other Catastrophies

I think some of us would like to say -- 'Oh yes I've seen Wild Strawberries a hundred times, Bergman's my hero' -- and we do, but often we'd be lying. In the end film becomes the thing that comforts some of us and is our touchstone but also it reflects out personality. It's also like a conversation and it's who you'd like to end up talking to at the end of the day.